Vietnam bans all religious events after Protestant church service triggers COVID cluster


Vietnam has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks, including religious gatherings, as they crack down on a COVID-19 cluster that has emerged in a church, the Associated Press reported.

Police have filed a complaint against a couple who lead a Protestant church mission in Vietnam for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases”, saying there were poor health protocols at their gatherings, the Vietnam New reported. Agency.

The newspaper also said that Ho Chi Minh City plans to test high-risk groups with a capacity to test around 100,000 per day for the city’s 9 million.

For more Associated Press reporting, see below.

Vietnam has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks, including religious gatherings, as they crack down on a COVID-19 cluster that has emerged in a church. Above, a bread seller walks past motorists waiting at a traffic light in Hanoi on June 2, 2021.
Nhac Nguyen / Getty Images

At least 145 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported with links to the Revival Ekklesia Mission, a Protestant sect, and the neighborhood in the town of Go Vap, where the church is based, has been locked down. Vietnam has since banned all religious events nationwide.

The newspaper said church worshipers gathered in a small space to sing and sing without proper distance or wearing masks. Ho Chi Minh City police said the mission has 48 registered members.

The report said the husband and wife accused in the case were responsible for leading and organizing church activities. They have not been identified and are not under arrest.

Since the end of April, an outbreak of COVID-19 has spread to 31 municipalities and provinces in Vietnam with more than 4,000 cases, nearly double the total number reported by the country since the start of the pandemic.

Some recent patients in Vietnam have been infected with a hybrid of variants of the virus first found in India and the UK, the health minister said on Saturday. Nguyen Thanh Long said the hybrid could spread more easily and could be responsible for the recent surge in Vietnam.

Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first detected in China in late 2019. The World Health Organization has classified the UK variants. and Indian, as well as two other first discovered in South Africa and Brazil, as “worrying variants” because they appear to be more contagious.

Vietnam has vaccinated 1 million people with AstraZeneca injections. He has an agreement with Pfizer for 30 million doses to be delivered later this year. It is also in talks with Moderna which would give it enough vaccines to fully immunize 80% of its 96 million inhabitants.

Elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific:

Cases multiply in Thailand

Thailand is stepping up efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus in labor camps, factories and markets as the number of new cases reported reached its highest level yet on Monday.

A government spokesperson said public health officials have met with labor and industry officials to discuss better ways to tackle infections that are concentrated in crowded and high-risk places. The government on Monday reported a record 5,485 new cases, including nearly 2,000 in prisons. Confirmed deaths have increased by 19, bringing the total to 1,031 since the start of the pandemic.

Concern over the rising numbers prompted the government to reverse a plan by the governor of Bangkok to ease some pandemic restrictions in the capital, including the reopening of parks. The plan, which was due to go into effect on Tuesday, will be postponed for 14 days. Thailand had succeeded in bringing epidemics under control to a large extent, at a high economic cost, especially to tourism, as foreign visitors were largely barred from entering the country.

That changed in early April, when a cluster of cases focusing on Bangkok’s bars and clubs spread as many people traveled during the Thai New Year’s holiday week. The total number of confirmed cases has now risen to 159,792, 82% of which occurred in the latest wave.

Controls operating in Singapore

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday that controls to reduce coronavirus infections were working, while announcing a decision to vaccinate students after a wave of transmissions in schools and learning centers.

Lee said controls banning dining and severely limiting social gatherings were “on track” to be relaxed after June 13. He urged the public to remain vigilant and only leave the house if they have to.

The government imposed tighter controls this month after a number of local cases of the coronavirus have been linked to shopping malls, hospitals and the airport, up from virtually none earlier in the year.

Almost three-quarters of the city-state’s 760,000 seniors have received at least one dose of the vaccine or made an appointment. Now, the jabs, which have been offered to people aged 40 and over, will be extended to students aged 12 and over from Tuesday.

Malaysia to speed up vaccinations

Malaysia opened its first mega vaccination center on Monday as the government sought to speed up vaccinations amid the worsening epidemic. Located in an exhibition center in the largest city of Kuala Lumpur, the center can immunize up to 8,000 people per day.

Officials say more such power centers will be opened nationwide, but some critics have urged the government to create smaller district-level centers instead to improve its reach. Malaysia begins an almost total lockdown from Tuesday, the second time in more than a year. Most social and economic activities, with the exception of 17 essential sectors, will be closed for at least two weeks as the government struggles to contain a worsening pandemic.

Daily cases of the virus hit a record 9,020 on Saturday before dropping to 6,824 on Monday. The total number of infections in Malaysia has risen to 572,357 while deaths are over 2,600, the two having quintupled compared to the whole of last year. Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Monday that the government is assessing the suitability of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Malaysia has so far only approved the use of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines. More than 12 million people have registered but less than 10% of the country’s 33 million people have been vaccinated so far.

Hong Kong pushes the incentives

Hong Kong officials on Monday called on the private sector to offer incentives to help ease hesitation over the COVID-19 vaccine, and warned those who did not get vaccinated could face more restrictions. strict if the city were to face a new epidemic.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told a press conference she had written letters to more than 100 real estate developers and outlets, urging them to offer incentives that could boost the market. city ​​vaccination campaign.

The move comes as Hong Kong faces hesitation over vaccination, with only 20% of its population vaccinated since late February despite widespread access to vaccines. Vaccine registrations rose over the weekend after a real estate developer offered a $ 1.4 million apartment as the grand prize in a raffle, along with other prizes, open to all. permanent residents of Hong Kong who have been vaccinated.

“Although it has been a very short period of a few days, but we have seen positive results,” Lam said.

About 26,900 people made online reservations for the vaccine on Sunday, more than double the 12,600 on Friday, the day the draw was announced.

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Woman wearing a mask in Vietnam
Vietnam has banned public gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks, including religious gatherings, as they crack down on a COVID-19 cluster that has emerged in a church. Above, a woman wearing a face mask looks at her phone in Hanoi on January 23, 2021.
Hau Dinh / Associated press

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